Aeneas’s defeat of Turnus (Book XII), painting by Luca Giordano
Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc’d by fate,
And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate,
Expell’d and exil’d, left the Trojan shore.
Long labours, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin’d town;
His banish’d gods restor’d to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.
O Muse! The causes and the crimes relate;
What goddess was provok’d, and whence her hate;
For what offence the Queen of Heav’n began
To persecute so brave, so just a man;
Involv’d his anxious life in endless cares,
Expos’d to wants, and hurried into wars!
Can heav’nly minds such high resentment show,
Or exercise their spite in human woe?
Against the Tiber’s mouth, but far away,
An ancient town was seated on the sea;
A Tyrian colony; the people made
Stout for the war, and studious of their trade:
Carthage the name; belov’d by Juno more
Than her own Argos, or the Samian shore.
Here stood her chariot; here, if Heav’n were kind,
The seat of awful empire she design’d.
Yet she had heard an ancient rumour fly,
(Long cited by the people of the sky,)
That times to come should see the Trojan race
Her Carthage ruin, and her tow’rs deface;
Nor thus confin’d, the yoke of sov’reign sway
Should on the necks of all the nations lay.
She ponder’d this, and fear’d it was in fate;
Nor could forget the war she wag’d of late
For conqu’ring Greece against the Trojan state.
Besides, long causes working in her mind,
And secret seeds of envy, lay behind;
Deep graven in her heart the doom remain’d
Of partial Paris, and her form disdain’d;
The grace bestow’d on ravish’d Ganymed,
Electra’s glories, and her injur’d bed.
Each was a cause alone; and all combin’d
To kindle vengeance in her haughty mind.
For this, far distant from the Latian coast
She drove the remnants of the Trojan host;
And sev’n long years th’ unhappy wand’ring train
Were toss’d by storms, and scatter’d thro’ the main.
Such time, such toil, requir’d the Roman name,
Such length of labour for so vast a frame.
Now scarce the Trojan fleet, with sails and oars,
Had left behind the fair Sicilian shores,
Ent’ring with cheerful shouts the wat’ry reign,
And plowing frothy furrows in the main;
When, lab’ring still with endless discontent,
The Queen of Heav’n did thus her fury vent:
“Then am I vanquish’d? Must I yield?” said she,
“And must the Trojans reign in Italy?
So Fate will have it, and Jove adds his force;
Nor can my pow’r divert their happy course.
Could angry Pallas, with revengeful spleen,
The Grecian navy burn, and drown the men?
She, for the fault of one offending foe,
The bolts of Jove himself presum’d to throw:
With whirlwinds from beneath she toss’d the ship,
And bare expos’d the bosom of the deep;
Then, as an eagle gripes the trembling game,
The wretch, yet hissing with her father’s flame,
She strongly seiz’d, and with a burning wound
Transfix’d, and naked, on a rock she bound.
But I, who walk in awful state above,
The majesty of heav’n, the sister wife of Jove,
For length of years my fruitless force employ
Against the thin remains of ruin’d Troy!
What nations now to Juno’s pow’r will pray,
Or off’rings on my slighted altars lay?”
Thus rag’d the goddess; and, with fury fraught.
The restless regions of the storms she sought,
Where, in a spacious cave of living stone,
The tyrant Aeolus, from his airy throne,
With pow’r imperial curbs the struggling winds,
And sounding tempests in dark prisons binds.
This way and that th’ impatient captives tend,
And, pressing for release, the mountains rend.
High in his hall th’ undaunted monarch stands,
And shakes his scepter, and their rage commands;
Which did he not, their unresisted sway
Would sweep the world before them in their way;
Earth, air, and seas thro’ empty space would roll,
And heav’n would fly before the driving soul.
In fear of this, the Father of the Gods
Confin’d their fury to those dark abodes,
And lock’d ’em safe within, oppress’d with mountain loads;
Impos’d a king, with arbitrary sway,
To loose their fetters, or their force allay.
To whom the suppliant queen her pray’rs address’d,
And thus the tenor of her suit express’d:
“O Aeolus! For to thee the King of Heav’n
The pow’r of tempests and of winds has giv’n;
Thy force alone their fury can restrain,
And smooth the waves, or swell the troubled main.
A race of wand’ring slaves, abhorr’d by me,
With prosp’rous passage cut the Tuscan sea;
To fruitful Italy their course they steer,
And for their vanquish’d gods design new temples there.
Raise all thy winds; with night involve the skies;
Sink or disperse my fatal enemies.
Twice sev’n, the charming daughters of the main,
Around my person wait, and bear my train:
Succeed my wish, and second my design;
The fairest, Deiopeia, shall be thine,
And make thee father of a happy line.”
To this the god: “’Tis yours, O queen, to will
The work which duty binds me to fulfil.
These airy kingdoms, and this wide command,
Are all the presents of your bounteous hand:
Yours is my sov’reign’s grace; and, as your guest,
I sit with gods at their celestial feast;
Raise tempests at your pleasure, or subdue;
Dispose of empire, which I hold from you.”
He said, and hurl’d against the mountain side
His quiv’ring spear, and all the god applied.
The raging winds rush thro’ the hollow wound,
And dance aloft in air, and skim along the ground;
Then, settling on the sea, the surges sweep,
Raise liquid mountains, and disclose the deep.
South, East, and West with mix’d confusion roar,
And roll the foaming billows to the shore.
The cables crack; the sailors’ fearful cries
Ascend; and sable night involves the skies;
And heav’n itself is ravish’d from their eyes.
Loud peals of thunder from the poles ensue;
Then flashing fires the transient light renew;
The face of things a frightful image bears,
And present death in various forms appears.
Struck with unusual fright, the Trojan chief,
With lifted hands and eyes, invokes relief;
And, “Thrice and four times happy those,” he cried,
“That under Ilian walls before their parents died!
Tydides, bravest of the Grecian train!
Why could not I by that strong arm be slain,
And lie by noble Hector on the plain,
Or great Sarpedon, in those bloody fields
Where Simois rolls the bodies and the shields
Of heroes, whose dismember’d hands yet bear
The dart aloft, and clench the pointed spear!”
Thus while the pious prince his fate bewails,
Fierce Boreas drove against his flying sails,
And rent the sheets; the raging billows rise,
And mount the tossing vessels to the skies:
Nor can the shiv’ring oars sustain the blow;
The galley gives her side, and turns her prow;
While those astern, descending down the steep,
Thro’ gaping waves behold the boiling deep.
Three ships were hurried by the southern blast,
And on the secret shelves with fury cast.
Those hidden rocks th’ Ausonian sailors knew:
They call’d them Altars, when they rose in view,
And show’d their spacious backs above the flood.
Three more fierce Eurus, in his angry mood,
Dash’d on the shallows of the moving sand,
And in mid ocean left them moor’d a-land.
Orontes’ bark, that bore the Lycian crew,
(A horrid sight!) Ev’n in the hero’s view,
From stem to stern by waves was overborne:
The trembling pilot, from his rudder torn,
Was headlong hurl’d; thrice round the ship was toss’d,
Then bulg’d at once, and in the deep was lost;
And here and there above the waves were seen
Arms, pictures, precious goods, and floating men.
The stoutest vessel to the storm gave way,
And suck’d thro’ loosen’d planks the rushing sea.
Ilioneus was her chief: Alethes old,
Achates faithful, Abas young and bold,
Endur’d not less; their ships, with gaping seams,
Admit the deluge of the briny streams.
Meantime imperial Neptune heard the sound
Of raging billows breaking on the ground.
Displeas’d, and fearing for his wat’ry reign,
He rear’d his awful head above the main,
Serene in majesty; then roll’d his eyes
Around the space of earth, and seas, and skies.
He saw the Trojan fleet dispers’d, distress’d,
By stormy winds and wintry heav’n oppress’d.
Full well the god his sister’s envy knew,
And what her aims and what her arts pursue.
He summon’d Eurus and the western blast,
And first an angry glance on both he cast;
Then thus rebuk’d: “Audacious winds! From whence
This bold attempt, this rebel insolence?
Is it for you to ravage seas and land,
Unauthoriz’d by my supreme command?
To raise such mountains on the troubled main?
Whom I — but first ’tis fit the billows to restrain;
And then you shall be taught obedience to my reign.
Hence! To your lord my royal mandate bear,
The realms of ocean and the fields of air
Are mine, not his. By fatal lot to me
The liquid empire fell, and trident of the sea.
His pow’r to hollow caverns is confin’d:
There let him reign, the jailer of the wind,
With hoarse commands his breathing subjects call,
And boast and bluster in his empty hall.”
He spoke; and, while he spoke, he smooth’d the sea,
Dispell’d the darkness, and restor’d the day.
Cymothoe, Triton, and the sea-green train
Of beauteous nymphs, the daughters of the main,
Clear from the rocks the vessels with their hands:
The god himself with ready trident stands,
And opes the deep, and spreads the moving sands;
Then heaves them off the shoals. Where’er he guides
His finny coursers and in triumph rides,
The waves unruffle and the sea subsides.
As, when in tumults rise th’ ignoble crowd,
Mad are their motions, and their tongues are loud;
And stones and brands in rattling volleys fly,
And all the rustic arms that fury can supply:
If then some grave and pious man appear,
They hush their noise, and lend a list’ning ear;
He soothes with sober words their angry mood,
And quenches their innate desire of blood:
So, when the Father of the Flood appears,
And o’er the seas his sov’reign trident rears,
Their fury falls: he skims the liquid plains,
High on his chariot, and, with loosen’d reins,
Majestic moves along, and awful peace maintains.
The weary Trojans ply their shatter’d oars
To nearest land, and make the Libyan shores.
Within a long recess there lies a bay:
An island shades it from the rolling sea,
And forms a port secure for ships to ride;
Broke by the jutting land, on either side,
In double streams the briny waters glide.
Betwixt two rows of rocks a sylvan scene
Appears above, and groves for ever green:
A grot is form’d beneath, with mossy seats,
To rest the Nereids, and exclude the heats.
Down thro’ the crannies of the living walls
The crystal streams descend in murm’ring falls:
No haulsers need to bind the vessels here,
Nor bearded anchors; for no storms they fear.
Sev’n ships within this happy harbour meet,
The thin remainders of the scatter’d fleet.
The Trojans, worn with toils, and spent with woes,
Leap on the welcome land, and seek their wish’d repose.
First, good Achates, with repeated strokes
Of clashing flints, their hidden fire provokes:
Short flame succeeds; a bed of wither’d leaves
The dying sparkles in their fall receives:
Caught into life, in fiery fumes they rise,
And, fed with stronger food, invade the skies.
The Trojans, dropping wet, or stand around
The cheerful blaze, or lie along the ground:
Some dry their corn, infected with the brine,
Then grind with marbles, and prepare to dine.
Aeneas climbs the mountain’s airy brow,
And takes a prospect of the seas below,
If Capys thence, or Antheus he could spy,
Or see the streamers of Caicus fly.
No vessels were in view; but, on the plain,
Three beamy stags command a lordly train
Of branching heads: the more ignoble throng
Attend their stately steps, and slowly graze along.
He stood; and, while secure they fed below,
He took the quiver and the trusty bow
Achates us’d to bear: the leaders first
He laid along, and then the vulgar pierc’d;
Nor ceas’d his arrows, till the shady plain
Sev’n mighty bodies with their blood distain.
For the sev’n ships he made an equal share,
And to the port return’d, triumphant from the war.
The jars of gen’rous wine (Acestes’ gift,
When his Trinacrian shores the navy left)
He set abroach, and for the feast prepar’d,
In equal portions with the ven’son shar’d.
Thus while he dealt it round, the pious chief
With cheerful words allay’d the common grief:
“Endure, and conquer! Jove will soon dispose
To future good our past and present woes.
With me, the rocks of Scylla you have tried;
Th’ inhuman Cyclops and his den defied.
What greater ills hereafter can you bear?
Resume your courage and dismiss your care,
An hour will come, with pleasure to relate
Your sorrows past, as benefits of Fate.
Thro’ various hazards and events, we move
To Latium and the realms foredoom’d by Jove.
Call’d to the seat (the promise of the skies)
Where Trojan kingdoms once again may rise,
Endure the hardships of your present state;
Live, and reserve yourselves for better fate.”
These words he spoke, but spoke not from his heart;
His outward smiles conceal’d his inward smart.
The jolly crew, unmindful of the past,
The quarry share, their plenteous dinner haste.
Some strip the skin; some portion out the spoil;
The limbs, yet trembling, in the caldrons boil;
Some on the fire the reeking entrails broil.
Stretch’d on the grassy turf, at ease they dine,
Restore their strength with meat, and cheer their souls with wine.
Their hunger thus appeas’d, their care attends
The doubtful fortune of their absent friends:
Alternate hopes and fears their minds possess,
Whether to deem ’em dead, or in distress.
Above the rest, Aeneas mourns the fate
Of brave Orontes, and th’ uncertain state
Of Gyas, Lycus, and of Amycus.
The day, but not their sorrows, ended thus.
When, from aloft, almighty Jove surveys
Earth, air, and shores, and navigable seas,
At length on Libyan realms he fix’d his eyes:
Whom, pond’ring thus on human miseries,
When Venus saw, she with a lowly look,
Not free from tears, her heav’nly sire bespoke:
“O King of Gods and Men! Whose awful hand
Disperses thunder on the seas and land,
Disposing all with absolute command;
How could my pious son thy pow’r incense?
Or what, alas! Is vanish’d Troy’s offence?
Our hope of Italy not only lost,
On various seas by various tempests toss’d,
But shut from ev’ry shore, and barr’d from ev’ry coast.
You promis’d once, a progeny divine
Of Romans, rising from the Trojan line,
In after times should hold the world in awe,
And to the land and ocean give the law.
How is your doom revers’d, which eas’d my care
When Troy was ruin’d in that cruel war?
Then fates to fates I could oppose; but now,
When Fortune still pursues her former blow,
What can I hope? What worse can still succeed?
What end of labours has your will decreed?
Antenor, from the midst of Grecian hosts,
Could pass secure, and pierce th’ Illyrian coasts,
Where, rolling down the steep, Timavus raves
And thro’ nine channels disembogues his waves.
At length he founded Padua’s happy seat,
And gave his Trojans a secure retreat;
There fix’d their arms, and there renew’d their name,
And there in quiet rules, and crown’d with fame.
But we, descended from your sacred line,
Entitled to your heav’n and rites divine,
Are banish’d earth; and, for the wrath of one,
Remov’d from Latium and the promis’d throne.
Are these our scepters? These our due rewards?
And is it thus that Jove his plighted faith regards?”
To whom the Father of th’ immortal race,
Smiling with that serene indulgent face,
With which he drives the clouds and clears the skies,
First gave a holy kiss; then thus replies:
“Daughter, dismiss thy fears; to thy desire
The fates of thine are fix’d, and stand entire.
Thou shalt behold thy wish’d Lavinian walls;
And, ripe for heav’n, when fate Aeneas calls,
Then shalt thou bear him up, sublime, to me:
No councils have revers’d my firm decree.
And, lest new fears disturb thy happy state,
Know, I have search’d the mystic rolls of Fate:
Thy son (nor is th’ appointed season far)
In Italy shall wage successful war,
Shall tame fierce nations in the bloody field,
And sov’reign laws impose, and cities build,
Till, after ev’ry foe subdued, the sun
Thrice thro’ the signs his annual race shall run:
This is his time prefix’d. Ascanius then,
Now call’d Iulus, shall begin his reign.
He thirty rolling years the crown shall wear,
Then from Lavinium shall the seat transfer,
And, with hard labour, Alba Longa build.
The throne with his succession shall be fill’d
Three hundred circuits more: then shall be seen
Ilia the fair, a priestess and a queen,
Who, full of Mars, in time, with kindly throes,
Shall at a birth two goodly boys disclose.
The royal babes a tawny wolf shall drain:
Then Romulus his grandsire’s throne shall gain,
Of martial tow’rs the founder shall become,
The people Romans call, the city Rome.
To them no bounds of empire I assign,
Nor term of years to their immortal line.
Ev’n haughty Juno, who, with endless broils,
Earth, seas, and heav’n, and Jove himself turmoils;
At length aton’d, her friendly pow’r shall join,
To cherish and advance the Trojan line.
The subject world shall Rome’s dominion own,
And, prostrate, shall adore the nation of the gown.
An age is ripening in revolving fate
When Troy shall overturn the Grecian state,
And sweet revenge her conqu’ring sons shall call,
To crush the people that conspir’d her fall.
Then Caesar from the Julian stock shall rise,
Whose empire ocean, and whose fame the skies
Alone shall bound; whom, fraught with eastern spoils,
Our heav’n, the just reward of human toils,
Securely shall repay with rites divine;
And incense shall ascend before his sacred shrine.
Then dire debate and impious war shall cease,
And the stern age be soften’d into peace:
Then banish’d Faith shall once again return,
And Vestal fires in hallow’d temples burn;
And Remus with Quirinus shall sustain
The righteous laws, and fraud and force restrain.
Janus himself before his fane shall wait,
And keep the dreadful issues of his gate,
With bolts and iron bars: within remains
Imprison’d Fury, bound in brazen chains;
High on a trophy rais’d, of useless arms,
He sits, and threats the world with vain alarms.”
He said, and sent Cyllenius with command
To free the ports, and ope the Punic land
To Trojan guests; lest, ignorant of fate,
The queen might force them from her town and state.
Down from the steep of heav’n Cyllenius flies,
And cleaves with all his wings the yielding skies.
Soon on the Libyan shore descends the god,
Performs his message, and displays his rod:
The surly murmurs of the people cease;
And, as the fates requir’d, they give the peace:
The queen herself suspends the rigid laws,
The Trojans pities, and protects their cause.
Meantime, in shades of night Aeneas lies:
Care seiz’d his soul, and sleep forsook his eyes.
But, when the sun restor’d the cheerful day,
He rose, the coast and country to survey,
Anxious and eager to discover more.
It look’d a wild uncultivated shore;
But, whether humankind, or beasts alone
Possess’d the new-found region, was unknown.
Beneath a ledge of rocks his fleet he hides:
Tall trees surround the mountain’s shady sides;
The bending brow above a safe retreat provides.
Arm’d with two pointed darts, he leaves his friends,
And true Achates on his steps attends.
Lo! In the deep recesses of the wood,
Before his eyes his goddess mother stood:
A huntress in her habit and her mien;
Her dress a maid, her air confess’d a queen.
Bare were her knees, and knots her garments bind;
Loose was her hair, and wanton’d in the wind;
Her hand sustain’d a bow; her quiver hung behind.
She seem’d a virgin of the Spartan blood:
With such array Harpalyce bestrode
Her Thracian courser and outstripp’d the rapid flood.
“Ho, strangers! Have you lately seen,” she said,
“One of my sisters, like myself array’d,
Who cross’d the lawn, or in the forest stray’d?
A painted quiver at her back she bore;
Varied with spots, a lynx’s hide she wore;
And at full cry pursued the tusky boar.”
Thus Venus: thus her son replied again:
“None of your sisters have we heard or seen,
O virgin! Or what other name you bear
Above that style; O more than mortal fair!
Your voice and mien celestial birth betray!
If, as you seem, the sister of the day,
Or one at least of chaste Diana’s train,
Let not an humble suppliant sue in vain;
But tell a stranger, long in tempests toss’d,
What earth we tread, and who commands the coast?
Then on your name shall wretched mortals call,
And offer’d victims at your altars fall.”
“I dare not,” she replied, “Assume the name
Of goddess, or celestial honours claim:
For Tyrian virgins bows and quivers bear,
And purple buskins o’er their ankles wear.
Know, gentle youth, in Libyan lands you are:
A people rude in peace, and rough in war.
The rising city, which from far you see,
Is Carthage, and a Tyrian colony.
Phoenician Dido rules the growing state,
Who fled from Tyre, to shun her brother’s hate.
Great were her wrongs, her story full of fate;
Which I will sum in short. Sichaeus, known
For wealth, and brother to the Punic throne,
Possess’d fair Dido’s bed; and either heart
At once was wounded with an equal dart.
Her father gave her, yet a spotless maid;
Pygmalion then the Tyrian scepter sway’d:
One who condemn’d divine and human laws.
Then strife ensued, and cursed gold the cause.
The monarch, blinded with desire of wealth,
With steel invades his brother’s life by stealth;
Before the sacred altar made him bleed,
And long from her conceal’d the cruel deed.
Some tale, some new pretence, he daily coin’d,
To soothe his sister, and delude her mind.
At length, in dead of night, the ghost appears
Of her unhappy lord: the spectre stares,
And, with erected eyes, his bloody bosom bares.
The cruel altars and his fate he tells,
And the dire secret of his house reveals,
Then warns the widow, with her household gods,
To seek a refuge in remote abodes.
Last, to support her in so long a way,
He shows her where his hidden treasure lay.
Admonish’d thus, and seiz’d with mortal fright,
The queen provides companions of her flight:
They meet, and all combine to leave the state,
Who hate the tyrant, or who fear his hate.
They seize a fleet, which ready rigg’d they find;
Nor is Pygmalion’s treasure left behind.
The vessels, heavy laden, put to sea
With prosp’rous winds; a woman leads the way.
I know not, if by stress of weather driv’n,
Or was their fatal course dispos’d by Heav’n;
At last they landed, where from far your eyes
May view the turrets of new Carthage rise;
There bought a space of ground, which Byrsa call’d,
From the bull’s hide, they first inclos’d, and wall’d.
But whence are you? What country claims your birth?
What seek you, strangers, on our Libyan earth?”
To whom, with sorrow streaming from his eyes,
And deeply sighing, thus her son replies:
“Could you with patience hear, or I relate,
O nymph, the tedious annals of our fate!
Thro’ such a train of woes if I should run,
The day would sooner than the tale be done!
From ancient Troy, by force expell’d, we came,
If you by chance have heard the Trojan name.
On various seas by various tempests toss’d,
At length we landed on your Libyan coast.
The good Aeneas am I call’d, a name,
While Fortune favour’d, not unknown to fame.
My household gods, companions of my woes,
With pious care I rescued from our foes.
To fruitful Italy my course was bent;
And from the King of Heav’n is my descent.
With twice ten sail I cross’d the Phrygian sea;
Fate and my mother goddess led my way.
Scarce sev’n, the thin remainders of my fleet,
From storms preserv’d, within your harbour meet.
Myself distress’d, an exile, and unknown,
Debarr’d from Europe, and from Asia thrown,
In Libyan deserts wander thus alone.”
His tender parent could no longer bear;
But, interposing, sought to soothe his care.
“Whoe’er you are, not unbelov’d by Heav’n,
Since on our friendly shore your ships are driv’n:
Have courage: to the gods permit the rest,
And to the queen expose your just request.
Now take this earnest of success, for more:
Your scatter’d fleet is join’d upon the shore;
The winds are chang’d, your friends from danger free;
Or I renounce my skill in augury.
Twelve swans behold in beauteous order move,
And stoop with closing pinions from above;
Whom late the bird of Jove had driv’n along,
And thro’ the clouds pursued the scatt’ring throng:
Now, all united in a goodly team,
They skim the ground, and seek the quiet stream.
As they, with joy returning, clap their wings,
And ride the circuit of the skies in rings;
Not otherwise your ships, and ev’ry friend,
Already hold the port, or with swift sails descend.
No more advice is needful; but pursue
The path before you, and the town in view.”
Thus having said, she turn’d, and made appear
Her neck refulgent, and dishevel’d hair,
Which, flowing from her shoulders, reach’d the ground.
And widely spread ambrosial scents around:
In length of train descends her sweeping gown;
And, by her graceful walk, the Queen of Love is known.
The prince pursued the parting deity
With words like these: “Ah! Whither do you fly?
Unkind and cruel! To deceive your son
In borrow’d shapes, and his embrace to shun;
Never to bless my sight, but thus unknown;
And still to speak in accents not your own.”
Against the goddess these complaints he made,
But took the path, and her commands obey’d.
They march, obscure; for Venus kindly shrouds
With mists their persons, and involves in clouds,
That, thus unseen, their passage none might stay,
Or force to tell the causes of their way.
This part perform’d, the goddess flies sublime
To visit Paphos and her native clime;
Where garlands, ever green and ever fair,
With vows are offer’d, and with solemn pray’r:
A hundred altars in her temple smoke;
A thousand bleeding hearts her pow’r invoke.
They climb the next ascent, and, looking down,
Now at a nearer distance view the town.
The prince with wonder sees the stately tow’rs,
Which late were huts and shepherds’ homely bow’rs,
The gates and streets; and hears, from ev’ry part,
The noise and busy concourse of the mart.
The toiling Tyrians on each other call
To ply their labour: some extend the wall;
Some build the citadel; the brawny throng
Or dig, or push unwieldly stones along.
Some for their dwellings choose a spot of ground,
Which, first design’d, with ditches they surround.
Some laws ordain; and some attend the choice
Of holy senates, and elect by voice.
Here some design a mole, while others there
Lay deep foundations for a theatre;
From marble quarries mighty columns hew,
For ornaments of scenes, and future view.
Such is their toil, and such their busy pains,
As exercise the bees in flow’ry plains,
When winter past, and summer scarce begun,
Invites them forth to labour in the sun;
Some lead their youth abroad, while some condense
Their liquid store, and some in cells dispense;
Some at the gate stand ready to receive
The golden burthen, and their friends relieve;
All with united force, combine to drive
The lazy drones from the laborious hive:
With envy stung, they view each other’s deeds;
The fragrant work with diligence proceeds.
“Thrice happy you, whose walls already rise!”
Aeneas said, and view’d, with lifted eyes,
Their lofty tow’rs; then, ent’ring at the gate,
Conceal’d in clouds (prodigious to relate)
He mix’d, unmark’d, among the busy throng,
Borne by the tide, and pass’d unseen along.
Full in the centre of the town there stood,
Thick set with trees, a venerable wood.
The Tyrians, landing near this holy ground,
And digging here, a prosp’rous omen found:
From under earth a courser’s head they drew,
Their growth and future fortune to foreshew.
This fated sign their foundress Juno gave,
Of a soil fruitful, and a people brave.
Sidonian Dido here with solemn state
Did Juno’s temple build, and consecrate,
Enrich’d with gifts, and with a golden shrine;
But more the goddess made the place divine.
On brazen steps the marble threshold rose,
And brazen plates the cedar beams inclose:
The rafters are with brazen cov’rings crown’d;
The lofty doors on brazen hinges sound.
What first Aeneas in this place beheld,
Reviv’d his courage, and his fear expell’d.
For while, expecting there the queen, he rais’d
His wond’ring eyes, and round the temple gaz’d,
Admir’d the fortune of the rising town,
The striving artists, and their arts’ renown;
He saw, in order painted on the wall,
Whatever did unhappy Troy befall:
The wars that fame around the world had blown,
All to the life, and ev’ry leader known.
There Agamemnon, Priam here, he spies,
And fierce Achilles, who both kings defies.
He stopp’d, and weeping said: “O friend! Ev’n here
The monuments of Trojan woes appear!
Our known disasters fill ev’n foreign lands:
See there, where old unhappy Priam stands!
Ev’n the mute walls relate the warrior’s fame,
And Trojan griefs the Tyrians’ pity claim.”
He said, his tears a ready passage find,
Devouring what he saw so well design’d,
And with an empty picture fed his mind:
For there he saw the fainting Grecians yield,
And here the trembling Trojans quit the field,
Pursued by fierce Achilles thro’ the plain,
On his high chariot driving o’er the slain.
The tents of Rhesus next, his grief renew,
By their white sails betray’d to nightly view;
And wakeful Diomede, whose cruel sword
The sentries slew, nor spar’d their slumb’ring lord,
Then took the fiery steeds, ere yet the food
Of Troy they taste, or drink the Xanthian flood.
Elsewhere he saw where Troilus defied
Achilles, and unequal combat tried;
Then, where the boy disarm’d, with loosen’d reins,
Was by his horses hurried o’er the plains,
Hung by the neck and hair, and dragg’d around:
The hostile spear, yet sticking in his wound,
With tracks of blood inscrib’d the dusty ground.
Meantime the Trojan dames, oppress’d with woe,
To Pallas’ fane in long procession go,
In hopes to reconcile their heav’nly foe.
They weep, they beat their breasts, they rend their hair,
And rich embroider’d vests for presents bear;
But the stern goddess stands unmov’d with pray’r.
Thrice round the Trojan walls Achilles drew
The corpse of Hector, whom in fight he slew.
Here Priam sues; and there, for sums of gold,
The lifeless body of his son is sold.
So sad an object, and so well express’d,
Drew sighs and groans from the griev’d hero’s breast,
To see the figure of his lifeless friend,
And his old sire his helpless hand extend.
Himself he saw amidst the Grecian train,
Mix’d in the bloody battle on the plain;
And swarthy Memnon in his arms he knew,
His pompous ensigns, and his Indian crew.
Penthisilea there, with haughty grace,
Leads to the wars an Amazonian race:
In their right hands a pointed dart they wield;
The left, for ward, sustains the lunar shield.
Athwart her breast a golden belt she throws,
Amidst the press alone provokes a thousand foes,
And dares her maiden arms to manly force oppose.
Thus while the Trojan prince employs his eyes,
Fix’d on the walls with wonder and surprise,
The beauteous Dido, with a num’rous train
And pomp of guards, ascends the sacred fane.
Such on Eurotas’ banks, or Cynthus’ height,
Diana seems; and so she charms the sight,
When in the dance the graceful goddess leads
The choir of nymphs, and overtops their heads:
Known by her quiver, and her lofty mien,
She walks majestic, and she looks their queen;
Latona sees her shine above the rest,
And feeds with secret joy her silent breast.
Such Dido was; with such becoming state,
Amidst the crowd, she walks serenely great.
Their labour to her future sway she speeds,
And passing with a gracious glance proceeds;
Then mounts the throne, high plac’d before the shrine:
In crowds around, the swarming people join.
She takes petitions, and dispenses laws,
Hears and determines ev’ry private cause;
Their tasks in equal portions she divides,
And, where unequal, there by lots decides.
Another way by chance Aeneas bends
His eyes, and unexpected sees his friends,
Antheus, Sergestus grave, Cloanthus strong,
And at their backs a mighty Trojan throng,
Whom late the tempest on the billows toss’d,
And widely scatter’d on another coast.
The prince, unseen, surpris’d with wonder stands,
And longs, with joyful haste, to join their hands;
But, doubtful of the wish’d event, he stays,
And from the hollow cloud his friends surveys,
Impatient till they told their present state,
And where they left their ships, and what their fate,
And why they came, and what was their request;
For these were sent, commission’d by the rest,
To sue for leave to land their sickly men,
And gain admission to the gracious queen.
Ent’ring, with cries they fill’d the holy fane;
Then thus, with lowly voice, Ilioneus began:
“O Queen! Indulg’d by favour of the gods
To found an empire in these new abodes,
To build a town, with statutes to restrain
The wild inhabitants beneath thy reign,
We wretched Trojans, toss’d on ev’ry shore,
From sea to sea, thy clemency implore.
Forbid the fires our shipping to deface!
Receive th’ unhappy fugitives to grace,
And spare the remnant of a pious race!
We come not with design of wasteful prey,
To drive the country, force the swains away:
Nor such our strength, nor such is our desire;
The vanquish’d dare not to such thoughts aspire.
A land there is, Hesperia nam’d of old;
The soil is fruitful, and the men are bold
Th’ Oenotrians held it once, by common fame
Now call’d Italia, from the leader’s name.
To that sweet region was our voyage bent,
When winds and ev’ry warring element
Disturb’d our course, and, far from sight of land,
Cast our torn vessels on the moving sand:
The sea came on; the South, with mighty roar,
Dispers’d and dash’d the rest upon the rocky shore.
Those few you see escap’d the storm, and fear,
Unless you interpose, a shipwreck here.
What men, what monsters, what inhuman race,
What laws, what barb’rous customs of the place,
Shut up a desert shore to drowning men,
And drive us to the cruel seas again?
If our hard fortune no compassion draws,
Nor hospitable rights, nor human laws,
The gods are just, and will revenge our cause.
Aeneas was our prince: a juster lord,
Or nobler warrior, never drew a sword;
Observant of the right, religious of his word.
If yet he lives, and draws this vital air,
Nor we, his friends, of safety shall despair;
Nor you, great queen, these offices repent,
Which he will equal, and perhaps augment.
We want not cities, nor Sicilian coasts,
Where King Acestes Trojan lineage boasts.
Permit our ships a shelter on your shores,
Refitted from your woods with planks and oars,
That, if our prince be safe, we may renew
Our destin’d course, and Italy pursue.
But if, O best of men, the Fates ordain
That thou art swallow’d in the Libyan main,
And if our young Iulus be no more,
Dismiss our navy from your friendly shore,
That we to good Acestes may return,
And with our friends our common losses mourn.”
Thus spoke Ilioneus: the Trojan crew
With cries and clamours his request renew.
The modest queen a while, with downcast eyes,
Ponder’d the speech; then briefly thus replies:
“Trojans, dismiss your fears; my cruel fate,
And doubts attending an unsettled state,
Force me to guard my coast from foreign foes.
Who has not heard the story of your woes,
The name and fortune of your native place,
The fame and valour of the Phrygian race?
We Tyrians are not so devoid of sense,
Nor so remote from Phoebus’ influence.
Whether to Latian shores your course is bent,
Or, driv’n by tempests from your first intent,
You seek the good Acestes’ government,
Your men shall be receiv’d, your fleet repair’d,
And sail, with ships of convoy for your guard:
Or, would you stay, and join your friendly pow’rs
To raise and to defend the Tyrian tow’rs,
My wealth, my city, and myself are yours.
And would to Heav’n, the Storm, you felt, would bring
On Carthaginian coasts your wand’ring king.
My people shall, by my command, explore
The ports and creeks of ev’ry winding shore,
And towns, and wilds, and shady woods, in quest
Of so renown’d and so desir’d a guest.”
Rais’d in his mind the Trojan hero stood,
And long’d to break from out his ambient cloud:
Achates found it, and thus urg’d his way:
“From whence, O goddess-born, this long delay?
What more can you desire, your welcome sure,
Your fleet in safety, and your friends secure?
One only wants; and him we saw in vain
Oppose the Storm, and swallow’d in the main.
Orontes in his fate our forfeit paid;
The rest agrees with what your mother said.”
Scarce had he spoken, when the cloud gave way,
The mists flew upward and dissolv’d in day.
The Trojan chief appear’d in open sight,
August in visage, and serenely bright.
His mother goddess, with her hands divine,
Had form’d his curling locks, and made his temples shine,
And giv’n his rolling eyes a sparkling grace,
And breath’d a youthful vigour on his face;
Like polish’d ivory, beauteous to behold,
Or Parian marble, when enchas’d in gold:
Thus radiant from the circling cloud he broke,
And thus with manly modesty he spoke:
“He whom you seek am I; by tempests toss’d,
And sav’d from shipwreck on your Libyan coast;
Presenting, gracious queen, before your throne,
A prince that owes his life to you alone.
Fair majesty, the refuge and redress
Of those whom fate pursues, and wants oppress,
You, who your pious offices employ
To save the relics of abandon’d Troy;
Receive the shipwreck’d on your friendly shore,
With hospitable rites relieve the poor;
Associate in your town a wand’ring train,
And strangers in your palace entertain:
What thanks can wretched fugitives return,
Who, scatter’d thro’ the world, in exile mourn?
The gods, if gods to goodness are inclin’d;
If acts of mercy touch their heav’nly mind,
And, more than all the gods, your gen’rous heart.
Conscious of worth, requite its own desert!
In you this age is happy, and this earth,
And parents more than mortal gave you birth.
While rolling rivers into seas shall run,
And round the space of heav’n the radiant sun;
While trees the mountain tops with shades supply,
Your honour, name, and praise shall never die.
Whate’er abode my fortune has assign’d,
Your image shall be present in my mind.”
Thus having said, he turn’d with pious haste,
And joyful his expecting friends embrac’d:
With his right hand Ilioneus was grac’d,
Serestus with his left; then to his breast
Cloanthus and the noble Gyas press’d;
And so by turns descended to the rest.
The Tyrian queen stood fix’d upon his face,
Pleas’d with his motions, ravish’d with his grace;
Admir’d his fortunes, more admir’d the man;
Then recollected stood, and thus began:
“What fate, O goddess-born; what angry pow’rs
Have cast you shipwreck’d on our barren shores?
Are you the great Aeneas, known to fame,
Who from celestial seed your lineage claim?
The same Aeneas whom fair Venus bore
To fam’d Anchises on th’ Idaean shore?
It calls into my mind, tho’ then a child,
When Teucer came, from Salamis exil’d,
And sought my father’s aid, to be restor’d:
My father Belus then with fire and sword
Invaded Cyprus, made the region bare,
And, conqu’ring, finish’d the successful war.
From him the Trojan siege I understood,
The Grecian chiefs, and your illustrious blood.
Your foe himself the Dardan valour prais’d,
And his own ancestry from Trojans rais’d.
Enter, my noble guest, and you shall find,
If not a costly welcome, yet a kind:
For I myself, like you, have been distress’d,
Till Heav’n afforded me this place of rest;
Like you, an alien in a land unknown,
I learn to pity woes so like my own.”
She said, and to the palace led her guest;
Then offer’d incense, and proclaim’d a feast.
Nor yet less careful for her absent friends,
Twice ten fat oxen to the ships she sends;
Besides a hundred boars, a hundred lambs,
With bleating cries, attend their milky dams;
And jars of gen’rous wine and spacious bowls
She gives, to cheer the sailors’ drooping souls.
Now purple hangings clothe the palace walls,
And sumptuous feasts are made in splendid halls:
On Tyrian carpets, richly wrought, they dine;
With loads of massy plate the sideboards shine,
And antique vases, all of gold emboss’d
(The gold itself inferior to the cost),
Of curious work, where on the sides were seen
The fights and figures of illustrious men,
From their first founder to the present queen.
The good Aeneas, whose paternal care
Iulus’ absence could no longer bear,
Dispatch’d Achates to the ships in haste,
To give a glad relation of the past,
And, fraught with precious gifts, to bring the boy,
Snatch’d from the ruins of unhappy Troy:
A robe of tissue, stiff with golden wire;
An upper vest, once Helen’s rich attire,
From Argos by the fam’d adultress brought,
With golden flow’rs and winding foliage wrought,
Her mother Leda’s present, when she came
To ruin Troy and set the world on flame;
The scepter Priam’s eldest daughter bore,
Her orient necklace, and the crown she wore
Of double texture, glorious to behold,
One order set with gems, and one with gold.
Instructed thus, the wise Achates goes,
And in his diligence his duty shows.
But Venus, anxious for her son’s affairs,
New counsels tries, and new designs prepares:
That Cupid should assume the shape and face
Of sweet Ascanius, and the sprightly grace;
Should bring the presents, in her nephew’s stead,
And in Eliza’s veins the gentle poison shed:
For much she fear’d the Tyrians, double-tongued,
And knew the town to Juno’s care belong’d.
These thoughts by night her golden slumbers broke,
And thus alarm’d, to winged Love she spoke:
“My son, my strength, whose mighty pow’r alone
Controls the Thund’rer on his awful throne,
To thee thy much-afflicted mother flies,
And on thy succour and thy faith relies.
Thou know’st, my son, how Jove’s revengeful wife,
By force and fraud, attempts thy brother’s life;
And often hast thou mourn’d with me his pains.
Him Dido now with blandishment detains;
But I suspect the town where Juno reigns.
For this ’tis needful to prevent her art,
And fire with love the proud Phoenician’s heart:
A love so violent, so strong, so sure,
As neither age can change, nor art can cure.
How this may be perform’d, now take my mind:
Ascanius by his father is design’d
To come, with presents laden, from the port,
To gratify the queen, and gain the court.
I mean to plunge the boy in pleasing sleep,
And, ravish’d, in Idalian bow’rs to keep,
Or high Cythera, that the sweet deceit
May pass unseen, and none prevent the cheat.
Take thou his form and shape. I beg the grace
But only for a night’s revolving space:
Thyself a boy, assume a boy’s dissembled face;
That when, amidst the fervour of the feast,
The Tyrian hugs and fonds thee on her breast,
And with sweet kisses in her arms constrains,
Thou may’st infuse thy venom in her veins.”
The God of Love obeys, and sets aside
His bow and quiver, and his plumy pride;
He walks Iulus in his mother’s sight,
And in the sweet resemblance takes delight.
The goddess then to young Ascanius flies,
And in a pleasing slumber seals his eyes:
Lull’d in her lap, amidst a train of Loves,
She gently bears him to her blissful groves,
Then with a wreath of myrtle crowns his head,
And softly lays him on a flow’ry bed.
Cupid meantime assum’d his form and face,
Foll’wing Achates with a shorter pace,
And brought the gifts. The queen already sate
Amidst the Trojan lords, in shining state,
High on a golden bed: her princely guest
Was next her side; in order sate the rest.
Then canisters with bread are heap’d on high;
Th’ attendants water for their hands supply,
And, having wash’d, with silken towels dry.
Next fifty handmaids in long order bore
The censers, and with fumes the gods adore:
Then youths, and virgins twice as many, join
To place the dishes, and to serve the wine.
The Tyrian train, admitted to the feast,
Approach, and on the painted couches rest.
All on the Trojan gifts with wonder gaze,
But view the beauteous boy with more amaze,
His rosy-colour’d cheeks, his radiant eyes,
His motions, voice, and shape, and all the god’s disguise;
Nor pass unprais’d the vest and veil divine,
Which wand’ring foliage and rich flow’rs entwine.
But, far above the rest, the royal dame,
(Already doom’d to love’s disastrous flame,)
With eyes insatiate, and tumultuous joy,
Beholds the presents, and admires the boy.
The guileful god about the hero long,
With children’s play, and false embraces, hung;
Then sought the queen: she took him to her arms
With greedy pleasure, and devour’d his charms.
Unhappy Dido little thought what guest,
How dire a god, she drew so near her breast;
But he, not mindless of his mother’s pray’r,
Works in the pliant bosom of the fair,
And moulds her heart anew, and blots her former care.
The dead is to the living love resign’d;
And all Aeneas enters in her mind.
Now, when the rage of hunger was appeas’d,
The meat remov’d, and ev’ry guest was pleas’d,
The golden bowls with sparkling wine are crown’d,
And thro’ the palace cheerful cries resound.
From gilded roofs depending lamps display
Nocturnal beams, that emulate the day.
A golden bowl, that shone with gems divine,
The queen commanded to be crown’d with wine:
The bowl that Belus us’d, and all the Tyrian line.
Then, silence thro’ the hall proclaim’d, she spoke:
“O hospitable Jove! We thus invoke,
With solemn rites, thy sacred name and pow’r;
Bless to both nations this auspicious hour!
So may the Trojan and the Tyrian line
In lasting concord from this day combine.
Thou, Bacchus, god of joys and friendly cheer,
And gracious Juno, both be present here!
And you, my lords of Tyre, your vows address
To Heav’n with mine, to ratify the peace.”
The goblet then she took, with nectar crown’d
(Sprinkling the first libations on the ground,)
And rais’d it to her mouth with sober grace;
Then, sipping, offer’d to the next in place.
’Twas Bitias whom she call’d, a thirsty soul;
He took the challenge, and embrac’d the bowl,
With pleasure swill’d the gold, nor ceas’d to draw,
Till he the bottom of the brimmer saw.
The goblet goes around: Iopas brought
His golden lyre, and sung what ancient Atlas taught:
The various labours of the wand’ring moon,
And whence proceed th’ eclipses of the sun;
Th’ original of men and beasts; and whence
The rains arise, and fires their warmth dispense,
And fix’d and erring stars dispose their influence;
What shakes the solid earth; what cause delays
The summer nights and shortens winter days.
With peals of shouts the Tyrians praise the song:
Those peals are echo’d by the Trojan throng.
Th’ unhappy queen with talk prolong’d the night,
And drank large draughts of love with vast delight;
Of Priam much enquir’d, of Hector more;
Then ask’d what arms the swarthy Memnon wore,
What troops he landed on the Trojan shore;
The steeds of Diomede varied the discourse,
And fierce Achilles, with his matchless force;
At length, as fate and her ill stars requir’d,
To hear the series of the war desir’d.
“Relate at large, my godlike guest,” she said,
“The Grecian stratagems, the town betray’d:
The fatal issue of so long a war,
Your flight, your wand’rings, and your woes, declare;
For, since on ev’ry sea, on ev’ry coast,
Your men have been distress’d, your navy toss’d,
Sev’n times the sun has either tropic view’d,
The winter banish’d, and the spring renew’d.”
All were attentive to the godlike man,
When from his lofty couch he thus began:
“Great queen, what you command me to relate
Renews the sad remembrance of our fate:
An empire from its old foundations rent,
And ev’ry woe the Trojans underwent;
A peopled city made a desert place;
All that I saw, and part of which I was:
Not ev’n the hardest of our foes could hear,
Nor stern Ulysses tell without a tear.
And now the latter watch of wasting night,
And setting stars, to kindly rest invite;
But, since you take such int’rest in our woe,
And Troy’s disastrous end desire to know,
I will restrain my tears, and briefly tell
What in our last and fatal night befell.
“By destiny compell’d, and in despair,
The Greeks grew weary of the tedious war,
And by Minerva’s aid a fabric rear’d,
Which like a steed of monstrous height appear’d:
The sides were plank’d with pine; they feign’d it made
For their return, and this the vow they paid.
Thus they pretend, but in the hollow side
Selected numbers of their soldiers hide:
With inward arms the dire machine they load,
And iron bowels stuff the dark abode.
In sight of Troy lies Tenedos, an isle
(While Fortune did on Priam’s empire smile)
Renown’d for wealth; but, since, a faithless bay,
Where ships expos’d to wind and weather lay.
There was their fleet conceal’d. We thought, for Greece
Their sails were hoisted, and our fears release.
The Trojans, coop’d within their walls so long,
Unbar their gates, and issue in a throng,
Like swarming bees, and with delight survey
The camp deserted, where the Grecians lay:
The quarters of the sev’ral chiefs they show’d;
Here Phoenix, here Achilles, made abode;
Here join’d the battles; there the navy rode.
Part on the pile their wond’ring eyes employ:
The pile by Pallas rais’d to ruin Troy.
Thymoetes first (’tis doubtful whether hir’d,
Or so the Trojan destiny requir’d)
Mov’d that the ramparts might be broken down,
To lodge the monster fabric in the town.
But Capys, and the rest of sounder mind,
The fatal present to the flames designed,
Or to the wat’ry deep; at least to bore
The hollow sides, and hidden frauds explore.
The giddy vulgar, as their fancies guide,
With noise say nothing, and in parts divide.
Laocoon, follow’d by a num’rous crowd,
Ran from the fort, and cried, from far, aloud:
‘O wretched countrymen! What fury reigns?
What more than madness has possess’d your brains?
Think you the Grecians from your coasts are gone?
And are Ulysses’ arts no better known?
This hollow fabric either must inclose,
Within its blind recess, our secret foes;
Or ’tis an engine rais’d above the town,
T’ o’erlook the walls, and then to batter down.
Somewhat is sure design’d, by fraud or force:
Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse.’
Thus having said, against the steed he threw
His forceful spear, which, hissing as it flew,
Pierc’d thro’ the yielding planks of jointed wood,
And trembling in the hollow belly stood.
The sides, transpierc’d, return a rattling sound,
And groans of Greeks inclos’d come issuing thro’ the wound
And, had not Heav’n the fall of Troy design’d,
Or had not men been fated to be blind,
Enough was said and done t’inspire a better mind.
Then had our lances pierc’d the treach’rous wood,
And Ilian tow’rs and Priam’s empire stood.
Meantime, with shouts, the Trojan shepherds bring
A captive Greek, in bands, before the king;
Taken to take; who made himself their prey,
T’ impose on their belief, and Troy betray;
Fix’d on his aim, and obstinately bent
To die undaunted, or to circumvent.
About the captive, tides of Trojans flow;
All press to see, and some insult the foe.
Now hear how well the Greeks their wiles disguis’d;
Behold a nation in a man compris’d.
Trembling the miscreant stood, unarm’d and bound;
He star’d, and roll’d his haggard eyes around,
Then said: ‘Alas! What earth remains, what sea
Is open to receive unhappy me?
What fate a wretched fugitive attends,
Scorn’d by my foes, abandon’d by my friends?’
He said, and sigh’d, and cast a rueful eye:
Our pity kindles, and our passions die.
We cheer the youth to make his own defence,
And freely tell us what he was, and whence:
What news he could impart, we long to know,
And what to credit from a captive foe.
“His fear at length dismiss’d, he said: ‘Whate’er
My fate ordains, my words shall be sincere:
I neither can nor dare my birth disclaim;
Greece is my country, Sinon is my name.
Tho’ plung’d by Fortune’s pow’r in misery,
’Tis not in Fortune’s pow’r to make me lie.
If any chance has hither brought the name
Of Palamedes, not unknown to fame,
Who suffer’d from the malice of the times,
Accus’d and sentenc’d for pretended crimes,
Because these fatal wars he would prevent;
Whose death the wretched Greeks too late lament;
Me, then a boy, my father, poor and bare
Of other means, committed to his care,
His kinsman and companion in the war.
While Fortune favour’d, while his arms support
The cause, and rul’d the counsels, of the court,
I made some figure there; nor was my name
Obscure, nor I without my share of fame.
But when Ulysses, with fallacious arts,
Had made impression in the people’s hearts,
And forg’d a treason in my patron’s name
(I speak of things too far divulg’d by fame),
My kinsman fell. Then I, without support,
In private mourn’d his loss, and left the court.
Mad as I was, I could not bear his fate
With silent grief, but loudly blam’d the state,
And curs’d the direful author of my woes.
’Twas told again; and hence my ruin rose.
I threaten’d, if indulgent Heav’n once more
Would land me safely on my native shore,
His death with double vengeance to restore.
This mov’d the murderer’s hate; and soon ensued
Th’ effects of malice from a man so proud.
Ambiguous rumours thro’ the camp he spread,
And sought, by treason, my devoted head;
New crimes invented; left unturn’d no stone,
To make my guilt appear, and hide his own;
Till Calchas was by force and threat’ning wrought:
But why — why dwell I on that anxious thought?
If on my nation just revenge you seek,
And ’tis t’ appear a foe, t’ appear a Greek;
Already you my name and country know;
Assuage your thirst of blood, and strike the blow:
My death will both the kingly brothers please,
And set insatiate Ithacus at ease.’
This fair unfinish’d tale, these broken starts,
Rais’d expectations in our longing hearts:
Unknowing as we were in Grecian arts.
His former trembling once again renew’d,
With acted fear, the villain thus pursued:
“‘Long had the Grecians (tir’d with fruitless care,
And wearied with an unsuccessful war)
Resolv’d to raise the siege, and leave the town;
And, had the gods permitted, they had gone;
But oft the wintry seas and southern winds
Withstood their passage home, and chang’d their minds.
Portents and prodigies their souls amaz’d;
But most, when this stupendous pile was rais’d:
Then flaming meteors, hung in air, were seen,
And thunders rattled thro’ a sky serene.
Dismay’d, and fearful of some dire event,
Eurypylus t’ enquire their fate was sent.
He from the gods this dreadful answer brought:
“O Grecians, when the Trojan shores you sought,
Your passage with a virgin’s blood was bought:
So must your safe return be bought again,
And Grecian blood once more atone the main.”
The spreading rumour round the people ran;
All fear’d, and each believ’d himself the man.
Ulysses took th’ advantage of their fright;
Call’d Calchas, and produc’d in open sight:
Then bade him name the wretch, ordain’d by fate
The public victim, to redeem the state.
Already some presag’d the dire event,
And saw what sacrifice Ulysses meant.
For twice five days the good old seer withstood
Th’ intended treason, and was dumb to blood,
Till, tir’d, with endless clamours and pursuit
Of Ithacus, he stood no longer mute;
But, as it was agreed, pronounc’d that I
Was destin’d by the wrathful gods to die.
All prais’d the sentence, pleas’d the storm should fall
On one alone, whose fury threaten’d all.
The dismal day was come; the priests prepare
Their leaven’d cakes, and fillets for my hair.
I follow’d nature’s laws, and must avow
I broke my bonds and fled the fatal blow.
Hid in a weedy lake all night I lay,
Secure of safety when they sail’d away.
But now what further hopes for me remain,
To see my friends, or native soil, again;
My tender infants, or my careful sire,
Whom they returning will to death require;
Will perpetrate on them their first design,
And take the forfeit of their heads for mine?
Which, O! If pity mortal minds can move,
If there be faith below, or gods above,
If innocence and truth can claim desert,
Ye Trojans, from an injur’d wretch avert.’
“False tears true pity move; the king commands
To loose his fetters, and unbind his hands:
Then adds these friendly words: ‘Dismiss thy fears;
Forget the Greeks; be mine as thou wert theirs.
But truly tell, was it for force or guile,
Or some religious end, you rais’d the pile?’
Thus said the king. He, full of fraudful arts,
This well-invented tale for truth imparts:
‘Ye lamps of heav’n!’ He said, and lifted high
His hands now free, ‘thou venerable sky!
Inviolable pow’rs, ador’d with dread!
Ye fatal fillets, that once bound this head!
Ye sacred altars, from whose flames I fled!
Be all of you adjur’d; and grant I may,
Without a crime, th’ ungrateful Greeks betray,
Reveal the secrets of the guilty state,
And justly punish whom I justly hate!
But you, O king, preserve the faith you gave,
If I, to save myself, your empire save.
The Grecian hopes, and all th’ attempts they made,
Were only founded on Minerva’s aid.
But from the time when impious Diomede,
And false Ulysses, that inventive head,
Her fatal image from the temple drew,
The sleeping guardians of the castle slew,
Her virgin statue with their bloody hands
Polluted, and profan’d her holy bands;
From thence the tide of fortune left their shore,
And ebb’d much faster than it flow’d before:
Their courage languish’d, as their hopes decay’d;
And Pallas, now averse, refus’d her aid.
Nor did the goddess doubtfully declare
Her alter’d mind and alienated care.
When first her fatal image touch’d the ground,
She sternly cast her glaring eyes around,
That sparkled as they roll’d, and seem’d to threat:
Her heav’nly limbs distill’d a briny sweat.
Thrice from the ground she leap’d, was seen to wield
Her brandish’d lance, and shake her horrid shield.
Then Calchas bade our host for flight
And hope no conquest from the tedious war,
Till first they sail’d for Greece; with pray’rs besought
Her injur’d pow’r, and better omens brought.
And now their navy plows the wat’ry main,
Yet soon expect it on your shores again,
With Pallas pleas’d; as Calchas did ordain.
But first, to reconcile the blue-ey’d maid
For her stol’n statue and her tow’r betray’d,
Warn’d by the seer, to her offended name
We rais’d and dedicate this wondrous frame,
So lofty, lest thro’ your forbidden gates
It pass, and intercept our better fates:
For, once admitted there, our hopes are lost;
And Troy may then a new Palladium boast;
For so religion and the gods ordain,
That, if you violate with hands profane
Minerva’s gift, your town in flames shall burn,
(Which omen, O ye gods, on Grecia turn!)
But if it climb, with your assisting hands,
The Trojan walls, and in the city stands;
Then Troy shall Argos and Mycenae burn,
And the reverse of fate on us return.’
“With such deceits he gain’d their easy hearts,
Too prone to credit his perfidious arts.
What Diomede, nor Thetis’ greater son,
A thousand ships, nor ten years’ siege, had done:
False tears and fawning words the city won.
“A greater omen, and of worse portent,
Did our unwary minds with fear torment,
Concurring to produce the dire event.
Laocoon, Neptune’s priest by lot that year,
With solemn pomp then sacrific’d a steer;
When, dreadful to behold, from sea we spied
Two serpents, rank’d abreast, the seas divide,
And smoothly sweep along the swelling tide.
Their flaming crests above the waves they show;
Their bellies seem to burn the seas below;
Their speckled tails advance to steer their course,
And on the sounding shore the flying billows force.
And now the strand, and now the plain they held;
Their ardent eyes with bloody streaks were fill’d;
Their nimble tongues they brandish’d as they came,
And lick’d their hissing jaws, that sputter’d flame.
We fled amaz’d; their destin’d way they take,
And to Laocoon and his children make;
And first around the tender boys they wind,
Then with their sharpen’d fangs their limbs and bodies grind.
The wretched father, running to their aid
With pious haste, but vain, they next invade;
Twice round his waist their winding volumes roll’d;
And twice about his gasping throat they fold.
The priest thus doubly chok’d, their crests divide,
And tow’ring o’er his head in triumph ride.
With both his hands he labours at the knots;
His holy fillets the blue venom blots;
His roaring fills the flitting air around.
Thus, when an ox receives a glancing wound,
He breaks his bands, the fatal altar flies,
And with loud bellowings breaks the yielding skies.
Their tasks perform’d, the serpents quit their prey,
And to the tow’r of Pallas make their way:
Couch’d at her feet, they lie protected there
By her large buckler and protended spear.
Amazement seizes all; the gen’ral cry
Proclaims Laocoon justly doom’d to die,
Whose hand the will of Pallas had withstood,
And dared to violate the sacred wood.
All vote t’ admit the steed, that vows be paid
And incense offer’d to th’ offended maid.
A spacious breach is made; the town lies bare;
Some hoisting levers, some the wheels prepare
And fasten to the horse’s feet; the rest
With cables haul along th’ unwieldly beast.
Each on his fellow for assistance calls;
At length the fatal fabric mounts the walls,
Big with destruction. Boys with chaplets crown’d,
And choirs of virgins, sing and dance around.
Thus rais’d aloft, and then descending down,
It enters o’er our heads, and threats the town.
O sacred city, built by hands divine!
O valiant heroes of the Trojan line!
Four times he struck: as oft the clashing sound
Of arms was heard, and inward groans rebound.
Yet, mad with zeal, and blinded with our fate,
We haul along the horse in solemn state;
Then place the dire portent within the tow’r.
Cassandra cried, and curs’d th’ unhappy hour;
Foretold our fate; but, by the god’s decree,
All heard, and none believ’d the prophecy.
With branches we the fanes adorn, and waste,
In jollity, the day ordain’d to be the last.
Meantime the rapid heav’ns roll’d down the light,
And on the shaded ocean rush’d the night;
Our men, secure, nor guards nor sentries held,
But easy sleep their weary limbs compell’d.
The Grecians had embark’d their naval pow’rs
From Tenedos, and sought our well-known shores,
Safe under covert of the silent night,
And guided by th’ imperial galley’s light;
When Sinon, favour’d by the partial gods,
Unlock’d the horse, and op’d his dark abodes;
Restor’d to vital air our hidden foes,
Who joyful from their long confinement rose.
Tysander bold, and Sthenelus their guide,
And dire Ulysses down the cable slide:
Then Thoas, Athamas, and Pyrrhus haste;
Nor was the Podalirian hero last,
Nor injur’d Menelaus, nor the fam’d
Epeus, who the fatal engine fram’d.
A nameless crowd succeed; their forces join
T’ invade the town, oppress’d with sleep and wine.
Those few they find awake first meet their fate;
Then to their fellows they unbar the gate.
“’Twas in the dead of night, when sleep repairs
Our bodies worn with toils, our minds with cares,
When Hector’s ghost before my sight appears:
A bloody shroud he seem’d, and bath’d in tears;
Such as he was, when, by Pelides slain,
Thessalian coursers dragg’d him o’er the plain.
Swoln were his feet, as when the thongs were thrust
Thro’ the bor’d holes; his body black with dust;
Unlike that Hector who return’d from toils
Of war, triumphant, in Aeacian spoils,
Or him who made the fainting Greeks retire,
And launch’d against their navy Phrygian fire.
His hair and beard stood stiffen’d with his gore;
And all the wounds he for his country bore
Now stream’d afresh, and with new purple ran.
I wept to see the visionary man,
And, while my trance continued, thus began:
‘O light of Trojans, and support of Troy,
Thy father’s champion, and thy country’s joy!
O, long expected by thy friends! From whence
Art thou so late return’d for our defence?
Do we behold thee, wearied as we are
With length of labours, and with toils of war?
After so many fun’rals of thy own
Art thou restor’d to thy declining town?
But say, what wounds are these? What new disgrace
Deforms the manly features of thy face?’
“To this the spectre no reply did frame,
But answer’d to the cause for which he came,
And, groaning from the bottom of his breast,
This warning in these mournful words express’d:
‘O goddess-born! Escape, by timely flight,
The flames and horrors of this fatal night.
The foes already have possess’d the wall;
Troy nods from high, and totters to her fall.
Enough is paid to Priam’s royal name,
More than enough to duty and to fame.
If by a mortal hand my father’s throne
Could be defended, ’twas by mine alone.
Now Troy to thee commends her future state,
And gives her gods companions of thy fate:
From their assistance walls expect,
Which, wand’ring long, at last thou shalt erect.’
He said, and brought me, from their blest abodes,
The venerable statues of the gods,
With ancient Vesta from the sacred choir,
The wreaths and relics of th’ immortal fire.
“Now peals of shouts come thund’ring from afar,
Cries, threats, and loud laments, and mingled war:
The noise approaches, tho’ our palace stood
Aloof from streets, encompass’d with a wood.
Louder, and yet more loud, I hear th’ alarms
Of human cries distinct, and clashing arms.
Fear broke my slumbers; I no longer stay,
But mount the terrace, thence the town survey,
And hearken what the frightful sounds convey.
Thus, when a flood of fire by wind is borne,
Crackling it rolls, and mows the standing corn;
Or deluges, descending on the plains,
Sweep o’er the yellow year, destroy the pains
Of lab’ring oxen and the peasant’s gains;
Unroot the forest oaks, and bear away
Flocks, folds, and trees, and undistinguish’d prey:
The shepherd climbs the cliff, and sees from far
The wasteful ravage of the wat’ry war.
Then Hector’s faith was manifestly clear’d,
And Grecian frauds in open light appear’d.
The palace of Deiphobus ascends
In smoky flames, and catches on his friends.
Ucalegon burns next: the seas are bright
With splendour not their own, and shine with Trojan light.
New clamours and new clangours now arise,
The sound of trumpets mix’d with fighting cries.
With frenzy seiz’d, I run to meet th’ alarms,
Resolv’d on death, resolv’d to die in arms,
But first to gather friends, with them t’ oppose
If fortune favour’d, and repel the foes;
Spurr’d by my courage, by my country fir’d,
With sense of honour and revenge inspir’d.
“Pantheus, Apollo’s priest, a sacred name,
Had scap’d the Grecian swords, and pass’d the flame:
With relics loaden, to my doors he fled,
And by the hand his tender grandson led.
‘What hope, O Pantheus? Whither can we run?
Where make a stand? And what may yet be done?’
Scarce had I said, when Pantheus, with a groan:
‘Troy is no more, and Ilium was a town!
The fatal day, th’ appointed hour, is come,
When wrathful Jove’s irrevocable doom
Transfers the Trojan state to Grecian hands.
The fire consumes the town, the foe commands;
And armed hosts, an unexpected force,
Break from the bowels of the fatal horse.
Within the gates, proud Sinon throws about
The flames; and foes for entrance press without,
With thousand others, whom I fear to name,
More than from Argos or Mycenae came.
To sev’ral posts their parties they divide;
Some block the narrow streets, some scour the wide:
The bold they kill, th’ unwary they surprise;
Who fights finds death, and death finds him who flies.
The warders of the gate but scarce maintain
Th’ unequal combat, and resist in vain.’
“I heard; and Heav’n, that well-born souls inspires,
Prompts me thro’ lifted swords and rising fires
To run where clashing arms and clamour calls,
And rush undaunted to defend the walls.
Ripheus and Iph’itas by my side engage,
For valour one renown’d, and one for age.
Dymas and Hypanis by moonlight knew
My motions and my mien, and to my party drew;
With young Coroebus, who by love was led
To win renown and fair Cassandra’s bed,
And lately brought his troops to Priam’s aid,
Forewarn’d in vain by the prophetic maid.
Whom when I saw resolv’d in arms to fall,
And that one spirit animated all:
‘Brave souls!’ Said I, ‘But brave, alas! In vain:
Come, finish what our cruel fates ordain.
You see the desp’rate state of our affairs,
And heav’n’s protecting pow’rs are deaf to pray’rs.
The passive gods behold the Greeks defile
Their temples, and abandon to the spoil
Their own abodes: we, feeble few, conspire
To save a sinking town, involv’d in fire.
Then let us fall, but fall amidst our foes:
Despair of life the means of living shows.’
So bold a speech incourag’d their desire
Of death, and added fuel to their fire.
“As hungry wolves, with raging appetite,
Scour thro’ the fields, nor fear the stormy night;
Their whelps at home expect the promis’d food,
And long to temper their dry chaps in blood:
So rush’d we forth at once; resolv’d to die,
Resolv’d, in death, the last extremes to try.
We leave the narrow lanes behind, and dare
Th’ unequal combat in the public square:
Night was our friend; our leader was despair.
What tongue can tell the slaughter of that night?
What eyes can weep the sorrows and affright?
An ancient and imperial city falls:
The streets are fill’d with frequent funerals;
Houses and holy temples float in blood,
And hostile nations make a common flood.
Not only Trojans fall; but, in their turn,
The vanquish’d triumph, and the victors mourn.
Ours take new courage from despair and night:
Confus’d the fortune is, confus’d the fight.
All parts resound with tumults, plaints, and fears;
And grisly Death in sundry shapes appears.
Androgeos fell among us, with his band,
Who thought us Grecians newly come to land.
‘From whence,’ said he, ‘my friends, this long delay?
You loiter, while the spoils are borne away:
Our ships are laden with the Trojan store;
And you, like truants, come too late ashore.’
He said, but soon corrected his mistake,
Found, by the doubtful answers which we make:
Amaz’d, he would have shunn’d th’ unequal fight;
But we, more num’rous, intercept his flight.
As when some peasant, in a bushy brake,
Has with unwary footing press’d a snake;
He starts aside, astonish’d, when he spies
His rising crest, blue neck, and rolling eyes;
So from our arms surpris’d Androgeos flies.
In vain; for him and his we compass’d round,
Possess’d with fear, unknowing of the ground,
And of their lives an easy conquest found.
Thus Fortune on our first endeavor smil’d.
Coroebus then, with youthful hopes beguil’d,
Swoln with success, and a daring mind,
This new invention fatally design’d.
‘My friends,’ said he, ‘since Fortune shows the way,
’Tis fit we should th’ auspicious guide obey.
For what has she these Grecian arms bestow’d,
But their destruction, and the Trojans’ good?
Then change we shields, and their devices bear:
Let fraud supply the want of force in war.
They find us arms.’ This said, himself he dress’d
In dead Androgeos’ spoils, his upper vest,
His painted buckler, and his plumy crest.
Thus Ripheus, Dymas, all the Trojan train,
Lay down their own attire, and strip the slain.
Mix’d with the Greeks, we go with ill presage,
Flatter’d with hopes to glut our greedy rage;
Unknown, assaulting whom we blindly meet,
And strew with Grecian carcasses the street.
Thus while their straggling parties we defeat,
Some to the shore and safer ships retreat;
And some, oppress’d with more ignoble fear,
Remount the hollow horse, and pant in secret there.
“But, ah! What use of valour can be made,
When heav’n’s propitious pow’rs refuse their aid!
Behold the royal prophetess, the fair
Cassandra, dragg’d by her dishevel’d hair,
Whom not Minerva’s shrine, nor sacred bands,
In safety could protect from sacrilegious hands:
On heav’n she cast her eyes, she sigh’d, she cried,
(’Twas all she could) her tender arms were tied.
So sad a sight Coroebus could not bear;
But, fir’d with rage, distracted with despair,
Amid the barb’rous ravishers he flew:
Our leader’s rash example we pursue.
But storms of stones, from the proud temple’s height,
Pour down, and on our batter’d helms alight:
We from our friends receiv’d this fatal blow,
Who thought us Grecians, as we seem’d in show.
They aim at the mistaken crests, from high;
And ours beneath the pond’rous ruin lie.
Then, mov’d with anger and disdain, to see
Their troops dispers’d, the royal virgin free,
The Grecians rally, and their pow’rs unite,
With fury charge us, and renew the fight.
The brother kings with Ajax join their force,
And the whole squadron of Thessalian horse.